St. Paul's Cathedral

lthough Westminster Abbey holds the distinction as being the church where kings and queens have been crowned since Harold, St. Paul's is where the people of the country turn to in times of national crisis and rejoicing. The present Cathedral is possibly the third or fourth religious building to be constructed on the site. The land on which the cathedral is built is the highest in the area and as such was the most likely location for such a building. During excavation work in 1830, a stone alter with a sculpture of Diana was found and this indicates that there was a temple dedicated to Diana on the site at the time of the Romans. In 610 Ethelbert, King of Kent, built the first Cathedral on the site after he was converted to Christianity by St. Augustine. It could have been St. Paul's Cathedral that was chosen as the primary site for Christianity in England, but opposition meant Canterbury was chosen instead. Mellitus was the first Bishop of London and was followed by Cedd, who came from Northumberland to help convert the Pagans of East Anglia to Christianity. St. Paul's became an important pilgrimage destination bringing much needed money to the site. Visiting the shrine of St. Erkenwald, the fourth Bishop, was a popular reason people made the journey.

The first of three serious fires in the Catherdral's history took place in 961 or 962. But money for rebuilding was not a problem as the church was supported by the Saxon kings. Edward the Confessor became King of England in 1042 and in 1044 he gave the Bishopric of London to Robert of Jumieges, the first Norman bishop. In 1087, the same year as the death of William the Conqueror, another serious fire took hold within the Saxon Cathedral leading to its destruction. The remains of the old Saxon church were wiped away and construction of a new Norman building using the latest techniques was started under the direction of the Norman bishop, Maurice.

962   St. Paul's burns down
 The church of St. Paul's built by Ethelbert burnt down this year. 
1087   St. Paul's Cathedral Burns down
 Work on rebuilding St. Paul's Cathedral started after the Old St. Paul's burnt down and a good deal of London as well. The person in charge of the rebuilding work was Mauritius, chaplain to William the Conqueror and Bishop of London. The new Cathedral was reportedly extremely large. 
1135   Fire at St. Paul's Cathedral
 Building work at St. Paul's Cathedral was underway when a major fire broke out and damaged the half-completed structure.[1] 
1136 Jan  A fire at St. Paul's
 Reconstruction work on the Cathedral at St. Paul's had been going on since the last major fire of 1087, and this fire again did much damage to the building. 
1213 Oct 3  Second act of submission
 King John appeared at St. Paul's Cathedral in a second act of submission to the Pope.[2]

Episode: Excommunication of King John  
1240   Building work at St. Paul's complete
 The central tower and the choir had been rebuilt during the first part of the thirteenth century and by 1240, building work was completed. Some changes were made at the end of this century, but then no major alterations occurred until after the Reformation.  
1314   Old St. Paul's Cathedral completed
 Work on the old St. Paul's Cathedral was finally completed in this year.[3] 
1374   A Tomb for John of Gaunt
 Henry Yevele was commissioned to design a tomb for John of Gaunt and his first wife Blanche of Lancaster to be built at St. Paul's Cathedral.[4] 
1444 Feb 1  St. Paul's struck by lightning
 This was the time before lightning conductors and when lightning struck the tower on St. Paul's Cathedral it started a fire. [1] 
Early Modern Period (1500-1800)
1501 Nov 14  Prince Arthur marries Catherine of Aragon
 After several days of celebration and reception Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon were married at St. Paul's Cathedral.[1]

Episode: Henry VIII and his Six Wives  
1509 Apr 21  Death of Henry VII
 Henry fell in and within just over a day he died of the illness. His body was first moved to St. Paul's and then to Westminster Abbey where he was buried next to his wife.[5] 
1561   St. Paul's struck by lightning
 Lightning again struck the spire of St. Paul's Cathedral. The roof and much of the cathedral were damaged by the resulting fire requiring extensive repairs.[1] 

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